Tag Archives: jfjfp

Good Jew urgently needed for Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow.

It is party conference season. There are only seven months to go to the general election and while the National Health Service, the economy and immigration will be important to most parties “Palestine” will be more important to the Liberal Democrats as they try to win votes at the expense of Israel and, more specifically, British Jews.

They will soon be planning their Mezuzah leaflets. There is no political party that fights an election more viciously than the Lib Dems., and Mezuzah leaflets are widely used by them to ensure that no Jewish house gets one of their “pro-Palestinian” leaflets which is full of anti-Israel propaganda.

This is the party that produced Chris Davies MEP who told a Jewish voter that he hoped she enjoyed “wallowing in her own filth”.

This is the party that produced Baroness Jenny Tonge who, inter alia, adores Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.

This is the party that wants to keep Israel as vulnerable as possible. During Operation Protective Edge they called for a ban on weapons being sold to Israel just as Israeli citizens were coming under sustained rocket attack from Hamas.

And this is the party which still has David “the Jews haven’t learned from the Holocaust” Ward as an MP.

And you can imagine the conversation during the planning of this Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine event being held at their Glasgow conference:

Lib Dem. 1: We need a Jew on the panel.
Lib Dem. 2: Yes, good point. A good Jew though. One that wants a one-state solution and who supports a boycott of Israeli products.
Lib Dem. 1: Ok, then. I’ll try and get hold of one of those nice Jews from Jews for Justice for Palestinians or from Independent Jewish Voices or, even better, from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.

You would really hope, wouldn’t you, that in 2014 the Liberal Democrats wouldn’t pin the religion of someone as being their most defining characteristic. But when there are votes to win the Lib Dems. punch hard below the belt.

Having “a Jew” on the panel is important for two reasons. It is more likely to convince the audience of the argument against Israel on the basis that “if a Jew is saying this it must be true”. Second, it allows the Liberal Democrats to convince themselves that anti-Semitism isn’t rife throughout their party because they can now now claim “but we’ve got a Jew on our panel”.

So if you are a “good Jew” reading this then get your train ticket for Glasgow. The Liberal Democrats urgently need you.

An evening with Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

David Landy, Richard Kuper and Naomi Wayne (Chair).

David Landy, Richard Kuper and Naomi Wayne (Chair).

Last Tuesday I went to SOAS for a launch of a book by David Landy called Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights – Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel. Anti-Zionist celebrities Tony Greenstein and Deborah Fink were in the audience.

Landy sees his book as “academic” even though, when it comes down to it, he is just another anti-Zionist propagandist and boycotter of Israel.

I haven’t read the book but I imagine, based on Landy’s talk, that in it he provides justification for direct action against Israel based on two lies; Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians in 1948 and Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians now.

Landy is described as “an Irish-Jewish academic, active in the Palestine solidarity movement. Formerly chair of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, he is currently based in Trinity College Dublin where he teaches contemporary social and cultural theory, and race and migration.”

In the book he critiques the “Jewish opposition to Israel” movement. For instance, he asks whether pro-Palestinian activism is really more about the activists, who tend to drown the Palestinians in victimhood, than the Palestinians.

It is a fair point because at “pro-Palestinian” meetings it is rare to actually discuss the Palestinians, except in the context of Israel’s supposed oppression of them. You learn nothing about the Palestinians themselves, although that would be interesting.

Then again the Palestinians have defined themselves, or have been defined, solely by their opposition to Israel. And jfjfp are also defined solely by their opposition to Israel. Landy explained that the use of “Jews” in the name of the organisation is sensible because Israel, he thinks wrongly, wants to speak for all the world’s Jews.

Landy started by explaining his reason for writing the book. He said that the pieces written about “Jewish opposition to Israel” were mainly “unsympathetic” and written by the likes of Anthony Julius and Geoffrey Alderman, which he described as being:

“Equivalent to the KKK giving their opinions on what the white civil rights movement in the United States was up to. It’s the same kind of level. It’s done to discredit the movement.”

Here is Landy at SOAS in his own words:

But what intrigued me more than anything were Richard Kuper’s speeches.

Kuper is a jfjfp and stalwart anti-Zionist activist. The Neturei Karta provide the main extremist religious Jewish opposition to Israel’s existence and the jfjfp provides the main extremist secular opposition to Israel’s existence. Both NK and jfjfp promote BDS.

So it would be interesting to understand how jfjfp define their Judaism. jfjfp seems to reject both Jewish religiosity and any type of Jewish peoplehood (Zionism), so what is left?

Jewish culture? But doesn’t the culture stem from the religion? Without the religion there would be no culture.

Human rights? But then all religions are concerned with that.

Kuper says he hasn’t been to synagogue since his barmitzvah. He also praised Jewdas (which has all of 5 members) for “sticking two fingers up to the institutions of the Jewish community”.

He condemns the “narrowness” and “religiosity” of the traditional Jewish community and talks of “new, younger Jews whose Judaism is much weaker, but very deeply felt, than the kind of orthodox Judaism with which I was brought up”:

How can one’s Judaism be “weaker, but very deeply felt” and what does this Judaism consist of?

Is this Judaism solely about condemnation of Israel and its existence?

Can it be that simple?

One commentator thinks that many anti-Zionist Jews have either no children or no Jewish children. They are, in effect, “the end of the Jewish line” and, therefore, their thinking is that if they cannot have a family themselves they wish to deny that family to the Jewish people as a whole.

Meanwhile, here is Landy on the strength of diaspora Jewish opposition to Israel, which, he admits, is a “minority movement”. “Minority” is an understatement to say the least:

After all this heavy philosophising and intellectualising jfjfp broke for red wine in the good old Hampstead intelligentsia tradition.

Liberal Judaism and the state of “Palestein”

Richard Kuper (JFJFP), Jeff Halper (ICAHD), Rabbi Danny Rich (Liberal Judaism)

For most Jews it might seem incongruous to attack Israel from in front of the Aron Ha-Kodesh but not for Jews for Justice for Palestinians and not for some from Liberal Judaism which hosted Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) at the Montagu Centre.

Halper is an American who has lived in Israel for 40 years. His talk was titled The Problems of a Peacenik in Israel: Attacking the messenger.

Before Halper spoke Rabbi Danny Rich made the following statement:

“Jews For Justice For Palestinians have booked the Montagu Centre on a number of occasions. They pay more than an economic rent. It is not our custom to censor speakers. We have come under pressure both formally and informally to cancel this meeting. It is not appropriate to cancel this meeting as JFJFP have booked our hall many times before without any problem and we do not believe that calling for a one-state solution, and I believe that Jeff does not call for that anyway, is anti-Semitic.”

So Halper does not call for a one state solution? Some of his his words:

“There’s only one government in Israel and Palestine which is an Israeli government. There’s only one army, one electrical system, one highway system and one water system. Israel has made that, now we can’t blame the Arabs for that. They accepted the two-state solution publicly in 1988. We made this a binational state and we have to accept responsibility for what we do. We made our bed and we have to lie in it, which means a one-state solution which is either binational or a democratic unitary state. I’m not advocating it. I think a one-state solution is a challenge, I think it’s just, I would like to go that way. You can’t keep advocating for a two-state solution when Israel has eliminated the two state solution.”

Extraordinarily, at the end Halper came over to me to specifically state for the record that he “supports boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel” and he agreed that he is going round British universities both calling for those and describing Israel as an apartheid state.

As for the rest of his talk Halper:

1. Quoted General Petraeus’ recent statement on Israel’s behaviour in not allowing the West to make an accommodation with the Muslim world: “Judaizing Jerusalem isn’t some local issue. Jerusalem is the epitome of the clash of civilisations. It has tremendous implications in the world.”

2. Said the population of Israel is only 70% Jewish. 30% are not Jewish including Russian immigrants and foreign workers and their families. Adding four million Palestinians has made Israel a binational reality. Jews in the diaspora must let Israel go. What Zionism did to the Jewish people was terrible. It negated diaspora Jews.

3. Told us that if diaspora Jews respect Israel they have to respect its right to evolve as a country and find its own place in the Middle East. It isn’t in Europe. After World War One Chaim Weizzman said: “We want the Land of Israel to be as Jewish as England is English.” That made sense in 1919 in England but England could evolve and go somewhere else. England has become a very different country. Bradford has a majority non-white population. You can now become British even if you are from China.

4. Said he thinks Israel intends to keep “Judea and Samaria”: “I can’t explain why we did that if we want a Jewish state. Whoever planned these settlements must be the most anti-Zionist of them all, possibly Ariel Sharon.”

5. Stated that the majority of Jews have always lived in the diaspora and that their national identity is based on the Torah and the book of Joshua (the book of conquest) which is tribal and genocidal and which is where Zionism took its Judaism from. The prophets, however, articulated human rights and liberal humanism. The values Israel talks about are unacceptable to diaspora Jews and that Jerusalem should be Jewish is a racism people would never accept in Britain.

Halper never mentioned the spectre of Islamic Fundamentalism, twisted history by saying the Jews had rejected a two-state solution in 1948 and said that Jewish children were being “brainwashed” by the likes of Birthright Israel. This brainwashing accusation is becoming a common theme against anyone who puts forward Israel’s position.

Finally, after two-hours of advocating a one-state solution, despite his ridiculous denials, Halper even gave us its name: Palestein.

Whiskey, dips and human rights.

Soon after Live8 was announced in 2005 I received an email which advertised a very expensive package for the concert including champagne breakfast and VIP access at the concert.

But I couldn’t understand how anyone would want to sip champagne while they were supposed to be thinking about the starving of Africa.

On Monday night it was a similar experience at the launch of JNews (not to be confused with the Jewish News).

JNews was launched by Brian Klug, who set up both Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV).

JFJFP, IJV and JNews are big on human rights and see themselves in opposition to other Jews, like me, who they think aren’t big on human rights because we condone Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

At the JNews launch Anthony Lerman told us that JNews will approach “the Israel-Palestine conflict from a concerned Jewish perspective” and that “we are living at a time when the situation in Israel-Palestine is becoming increasingly desperate”.

When hasn’t it been desperate, Anthony!

Next Klug sat before us preaching about human rights and social justice and quoting heavily from the Talmud.

Then it was quiz time: “What do you think the “J” in “JNews” stands for?”, he asked us.

Some, he said, would think it stood for “Jews for Genocide” or “Traitors to the Jewish people” or “Self Hating Jews”.

Finally, he ended our suspense: “The ‘J’ stands for Jews and Justice and, as it says in the Talmud, these two should be as one”

He wants JNews to be non-partisan but being the committed anti-Zionist activist that he is I doubt very much JNews will succeed in that.

Baroness Helena Kennedy

Then we heard from Baroness Helena Kennedy who said she was proud to be a patron of JNews. She actually spoke with true concern for what was happening in Israel/Palestine.

And she quoted Amos Oz’s short work Please help us to Divorce which really is a must read for people who wish to understand the psychological complexities that both Israelis and Palestinians must overcome before there can be a two-state solution.

Unlike the myopic JFJFP, IJV and JNews Oz doesn’t blame everything on Israel.

Then there was a big faux pas when Baroness Kennedy said “I’m an honorary Jew” due to her experience of growing up in Glasgow “where both the Catholics and the Jews got it in the neck at the same time”.

So Helena loves Jews but she obviously hasn’t been reading Anne Karpf lately. Didn’t Helena realise that philo-Semitism is the new anti-Semitism?

According to Karpf, who co-edited IJV’s A Time to Speak Out:

“We live in postmodern times where some of what looks like anti-Semitism isn’t, but, conversely, some of what doesn’t look like anti-Semitism in fact is. Consider the “philo-Semitism”, for instance, of Michael Gove and Julie Burchill (“the Jews are my favourites”; “Jews do things so well”). Burchill’s philo-Semitism is a form of anti-Semitism, I’d suggest, because it bunches all Jews together as though we were a single, uniform entity. The idea that all Jews are wonderful is little different from all Jews being hateful: in both cases Jews are stripped of individual characteristics, and are nothing except Jewish – a view to which most racists happily subscribe.”

So if Burchill and Gove are “anti-Semites” what does that make Baroness Helena Kennedy who thinks of herself as an “honorary Jew”? Would the 90 members of this Karpf-loving audience shout “anti-Semite” at Kennedy, I wondered? Of course not.

Miri Weingarten (Guardian)

Then it was time for Miri Weingarten who said that “as Jews we can offer the public a unique voice out of genuine concern for Israelis and Palestinians”.

Finally, it was short film time. The film (see end) showed us the real perspective that JNews is coming from which is of the Palestinian refugees returning to Israel. The film makes the Israeli public out to be dishonest.

It is called On the Day Yafa’s Refugees Return.

Then it was time for wine, whisky, potato wedges and dips served by waitresses and all of which reminded me of that Live8 email of five years ago.

Would it not have been better if the money put into this expensive catering had gone to promote the human rights that JNews cares so much about?

So what is JNews?

It seems to be just another version of JFJFP and IJV; same patrons, same audience.

It has expensive office space in the heart of Farringdon.

It sees itself as Britain’s answer to J Street which is trying to challenge AIPAC’s influence in Washington. AIPAC is America’s pro-Israel lobby.

It claims it will take articles from any perspective, even a Zionist one, as long as it comes from a human rights perspective.

It likes to serve delicious food and alcohol.

Duck pancakes, anyone?

Israel/Palestine: Debate in Parliament

One Voice

I have been asked to help publicise an event for Jews for Justice for Palestinians at Parliament on 24th February. The questions to be debated are:

“With the ‘peace process’ stalled and facts on the ground making a two-state solution increasingly difficult what hope is there for progress in Israel and Palestine in 2010? What role can or should the United States and the European Union play?

The first question presumes that “the facts on the ground”, a general euphemism for the settlements, are the main problem to peace. Obviously, this reduces the argument to putting all blame solely on Israel.

Nevertheless, I agreed to publicise the event due to the presence of a representative of One Voice on the panel.

One Voice is a large and growing movement of moderate Israelis and Palestinians who are engaged in conflict resolution with the objective of negotiations leading to a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

John Lyndon, Executive Director of One Voice Europe, will be speaking alongside three other panellists who are either highly critical of Israel or are against Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

But to hear the views of One Voice will be well worth it.

If you wish to register for the event please see details below:

Perspectives on Israel & Palestine – What can we expect in 2010?
A question & answer session with:
Afif Safieh – former PLO ambassador in London, Washington and Moscow
John Lyndon – Executive Director, One Voice Europe
Daphna Baram – UK based Israeli journalist
Dan Judelson – JfJfP (chair)

With the ‘peace process’ stalled and facts on the ground making a two-state solution increasingly difficult what hope is there for progress in
Israel and Palestine in 2010? What role can or should the United States and the European Union play?

The panel will answer questions submitted by MPs, peers & activists as well as presenting their own analyses of the current situation.

Please submit questions and requests for places (the event is likely to be popular and therefore oversubscribed) to events@jfjfp.org

Wednesday February 24th 2010, 7pm‐9pm, Grand Committee Room, Parliament

Thanks to Glenda Jackson MP for facilitating this event.
Directions: Nearest tube: Westminster (Jubilee line) Buses include: 3, 12, 24, 88, 148, 159, 211, 453 stopping in Parliament Square
Please allow up to 20 minutes to clear security on entrance and use St Stephen’s entrance, Old Palace Yard)